Prayer is not a magic formula. There isn’t a particular set of words that need to be said for God to hear us. If we think prayer is just about the words we use and not the heart then we are missing the point. For example, some people think that the phrase “Hocus Pocus” comes from a slight twist on a Latin phrase used at the Lord’s Supper. Prayer is a conversation with God that flows out of the heart and is possible because of our position of righteousness in Christ.
So why do we find it so hard to pray? Is there a place for reading prayers? I believe a written prayer can be helpful if it helps express what is already in our heart. For example, for many years I have used the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 as a pattern for my prayers. We adore God for who he is. We seek His kingdom and His will. We ask for forgiveness and help in overcoming sin. And acknowledge that all honor, power, and glory belong to God alone forever.
The Valley of Vision is a book of Puritan Prayers and Devotions that is poetic and gospel-centered. The prayer below is from the book and it’s called The Mediator. Don’t read it for information or entertainment as you would a book. Instead, read slowly and meditate on what the words say and what they mean. If you do use a written prayer then use it as a flexible guide. Read aloud and expand on the words as you communicate with God.
I have destroyed myself,
my nature is defiled,
the powers of my soul are degraded;
I am vile, miserable, strengthless,
but my hope is in thee.
If ever I am saved it will be by goodness undeserved and astonishing,
not by mercy alone but by abundant mercy,
not by grace but by exceeding riches of grace;
And such thou hast revealed, promised, exemplified, in thoughts of peace, not of evil.
Thou hast devised means
to rescue me from sin’s perdition,
to restore me to happiness, honour, safety.
I bless thee for the everlasting covenant,
for the appointment of a Mediator.
I rejoice that he failed not, nor was discouraged,
but accomplished the work thou gavest him to do;
and said on the cross, ‘It is finished.’
I exult in the thought that
thy justice is satisfied,
thy truth established,
thy law magnified,
and a foundation is laid for my hope.
I look to a present and personal interest in Christ and say,
Surely he has borne my griefs,
carried my sorrows,
won my peace,
healed my soul.
Justified by his blood I am saved by his life,
Glorifying in his cross I bow to his sceptre,
Having his Spirit I possess his mind.
Lord, grant that my religion may not be
occasional and partial,
but universal, influential, effective,
and may I always continue in they words as well as they works,
so that I may reach my end in peace.